Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures

Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures - learning about gardening up north.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Spring Planting Begins...

It is that time of the year again, when all of the gardeners in the Matsu Valley, here in South Central, Alaska rush to get everything planted out in their garden just as early as absolutely possible. The warm sunny days are so tempting to set out plants and yet the idea of another killer frost overnight is always in the back of your mind. I took the extra step years ago to purchase a home weather station and tracking overnight low temperatures in my home garden has saved my bacon several times. I found out that my garden can be 5-10 degrees colder than surrounding locations just a mile or two away. Just this morning, on Sunday May 17, I recorded an overnight low of 31 degrees. Luckily I took the time, before going to bed, to set up a small electric space heater inside my greenhouse that kept the temperature inside above 40 degrees.  

Click image for larger view.
My property is lower than my neighbors and slopes slightly to the northwest. I am also on the edge of a valley. So all of the cold air flows down to the valley overnight and right through my yard. It is not the optimal location to be sure. Yet, this has been another mild winter with a very early Spring warm-up. The climate here in Alaska is definitely warming faster than anywhere else. When I first moved to Alaska, 24 years ago, the well known Iditirod Sled Dog Race had their Official Start here in Wasilla, yet about 10 years ago they had to move 30 miles further north because of our lack of snow. For the second time, in the past 10 years, they had to move the whole race this year to Fairbanks and change the route completely due to the lack of snow on the traditional trail. So on Saturday May 16, I spent the day planting my cold tolerant crops out in my garden. I planted broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, and onions.

I also set up a covered hoop tunnel and set out some zucchini plants under plastic. 

I constructed these wire covered cages last year to keep the neighborhood moose from destroying my garden, as they regularly did in the past. I plan to be planting some winter squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers out under hoop tunnels later this week. My main crop tomatoes and some eggplant will be planted in my Alaska Grow Buckets inside the greenhouse.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Gardening Update Saturday May 9

The nights are just beginning to stay in the upper 30's, but I am still not brave enough to set plants outside just yet. Our average last frost date is May 20th and my front yard micro-climate can be 5-10 degrees colder than surrounding locations on a clear night. I have yet to connect my electric space heater or my propane heater out in the greenhouse. And my home weather station was still showing low nighttime temperatures below freezing just last week. My indoor seedling racks are just about bursting at the seams, so moving out to the greenhouse will need to happen pretty soon.

I believe the #1 cause for spindly weak seedlings is not enough light. I use 6 - T12 or 4 - T8 or 4 - T5 bulbs per shelf and my lights are on for 16 hrs each day. You might notice the placement of my TomatoCam in the photo. This is my new netcam that will be moving out to the greenhouse along with my plants soon. Come back as often as you like to monitor my growing season, here in Wasilla.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Introducing the TomatoCam

The TomatoCam is my new wireless netcam. I will be posting daily updates showing my Alaska Grow Buckets from inside my greenhouse so you can follow the progress throughout the season. At this point in time I have the camera pointed at one of my seedling shelves showing my tomato plants. I will be moving out to the greenhouse very soon.